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The Dales and Beyond.
Member Name: leviathan
Date: 07/05/01, updated on 07/05/01 (122 review reads)
Advantages: Fewer tourists, especially out of season. With views to die for.
Disadvantages: Would I dare mention any about my child-hood stamping grounds.
Visiting the Yorkshire Dales? Or the Lakes..Great..But please consider this.
There is a small corner of England, where the three great counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Cumbria meet, which is often overlooked by the tourist, as they hurtle along the M6 motorway to the Lake District and beyond. And I’m hoping to persuade any that may be holidaying either in the Lakes, or Yorkshire Dales, to take the time to ‘stop off’ enroute to take a look around.
I was born in the seaside Town of Morecambe (pause whilst readers express sympathetic sighs, or snorts of derision) long before the days of Mr BlobbyLand, or whatever the dratted place is called.
In the good old days Morecambe was noted for being a bit ‘up-market’. An elegant resort, much beloved by the Scots. Neither brash like the upstart Blackpool, nor quite as boring as Southport and in the Midland Hotel, a 1930’s art deco inspired building; this elegance can still be seen. (They also serve a mean afternoon tea.)
But little else of the old Morecambe remains, and unless you are on holiday with young children, who are content to spend hours building sand-castles and paddling there is not much to interest the sightseer, expect perhaps the sun setting over Morecambe Bay.
Although railway anoraks will doubtless enjoy a visit to the Railway museum in Carnforth, to be found a short journey away along the coast.
I could say more about Morecambe, but I don’t want to put you off the general area, so I will move on to the City of Lancaster, with its castle, old militia barracks, museum, and University.
The City council has made quite a few improvements lately. Pedestrian only shopping area’s, a cleaner Canal, better parking etc. But most of the ‘attractions’ can be seen in a day.
The castle belongs to the Queen, (somehow I don’t see Her Majesty ever staying there) and was used as a prison for many years. Bu
t if your kids are impressionable. Don’t let them visit the dungeons! Mine had nightmares for weeks, after the ‘guide’ closed the door to one of the ‘cells’, leaving them in the pitch dank dark for long enough to scare them witless. Nor were they too impressed with the instruments of torture, such as the ‘gossips bridle’, and the branding irons they were shown. Still the views from the battlements over the Lune Valley are worth the climb up the seemingly endless stone stairs.
Heading out of Lancaster on the A683 for Kirkby-in-Lonsdale, if you take the B6480 for High Bentham, you can take a break in the picturesque village of Wray, and stretch your legs along the river Roeburn. Or simply take one of the unclassified single-track roads that lead to Ingleton and the White Scar Caves, if you enjoy the tourist thing.
But if there is a personal heaven to be found on earth, I found mine many years ago. And whenever I get really down, or thoroughly hacked off with life I return there to feed my spiritual self. Even if it’s only in my mind’s eye.
So if like me, the sheer beauty, and magnificence of nature can rob you of breath, and make you weak at the knees. Just follow these simple directions, and be prepared.
Just outside Ingleton northbound on the A65 there is turning, which leads to a narrow unclassified track. To use it walkers/cyclists will need very strong leg muscles, and a good pair of lungs. Motorised vehicles will require a driver with nerves of steel, an engine with pulling power, and first rate brakes, before attempting to negotiate the track.
Bordered by stout stone walls, the track climbs quite spectacularly, with tight bends, and few passing places (so be prepared for some nifty reversing). Until finally it widens and levels off for about 25 yards.
I don’t need to tell you to halt here. The view alone will stop all but a Philistine in their tracks.
For laid before you is the valley known locally as Deepdale.
To one side, Whernside, one of the peaks ‘climbed’ in the annual Three Peaks Race. (The others being Ingleton and Pen-Y-Ghent) To the other is Craghill rising to 686 feet. Whilst in the background Garsdale rises away into the distance. For me it is simply the most beautiful sight on earth.
I have stood up there at sunrise, sunset, mid-afternoon, and mid-morning. I have stared in awe whilst storms broke over the Peaks, ignoring the winds and the deluges that followed. Taken whole reels of film on gloriously sunny days, and toasted the majesty of it all with quite a few bottles of wine. (Not when I was driving of course). And have waxed lyrical about the place to anyone who would listen for years. As you can probably tell?
If you can tear yourself away (I have difficulty doing so) the track then falls steeply (1in4), but fairly straightly, leading you into the village of Dent. A village now largely inhabited by quite a few artists, writers, and crafts folk. Whose ‘works’ are available for purchase in several arty/crafty/souvenir type establishments, by the avid collector.
From Dent you can meander southwards cross-country to visit the Ribble Viaduct, another must see, for any interested in architecture. ( I am always fascinated by how such fantastic structures were built in the days before mechanical cranes etc were invented, and what the lives of the men who built them must have been like) Or turn northwest for a trip to Kendal, home of the famous,or infamous depending on how sweet a tooth one has, Kendal Mint-Cake.
Now ending a ‘location’ op with a bacon and egg roll, washed down with a freshly made mug of tea, may at first glance seem odd.
However, if on leaving Dent, one has taken another unclassified road which leads to Kirkby-in-Lonsdale a visit to the mobile café situated in the Devil’s Bridge lay-by off the A
683 at Kirkby-in-Lonsdale, is a very definite must.
I found this gem back in the 1980’s, and the only change the proprietor has made since then, is to acquire a larger caravan. The food, and excellent friendly service, remains the same, and is frankly quite outstanding.
Although it must be said, that the biker fraternity (a group who always seem to know where the best grub can be found) have made the place their own, and sometimes the queue can be lengthy.
But once you have put in your order (all food is cooked to order). You can always spend the time watching the River Lune rushing under the Devil’s Bridge, (the river runs too fast to play Pooh sticks) or in feeding the cheeky chaffinches, and other birds, tame enough to take food from your hand, which congregate around the café.
And believe me the mug of tea alone is worth the wait. It will certainly ‘fortify’ the nerves if one intends to rejoin the Motorway traffic.
More reviews in the field of National Park
- Irchester Country Park
- Hainault Forest Park
- The Grand Western Canal Country Park
- Walsall Arboretum (Walsall, West Midlands)
- Ben Nevis (Fort William, Scotland)
- Farthing Downs (Greater London)
- Becketts Park (Northampton)
- The Forsinard Trail (Sutherland, Scotland)
- Queen Elizabeth Country Park (Hampshire))
- Stanwick Lakes (Nene Valley, Northamptonshire)